It was more than making me feel loved; it was teaching me that even through the difficult situations, I am loved.

The will that you have to never give up was something that I aspire to have one day.

Research has also begun to confirm Moynihan's fears that children of unmarried moms face more obstacles in life.

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Even on the days when all you wanted to do was take a nap after a long day at work, you put me before yourself.

You never gave up on the things that I needed and continued to give me more than I ever deserved.

If children of single mothers fare worse in many ways, then married parents might make their lives better, right?

Here Mc Lanahan and Jencks are clear: None of these findings mean that children would necessarily be better off if their biological parents married.

Even when I doubted myself, you never gave up on me.

You were at every sporting event, competition, school field trip, and many more, and never gave up.

Mc Lanahan and Jencks have found in their research that they experience more family instability, with new partners moving in and out, and more half-siblings fathered by different men.

The growing number of studies in this field also suggests that these children have more problem behaviors and more trouble finishing school.

As a policy problem, this means that the rise of unmarried moms demands a solution far beyond marriage. A key insight from Mc Lanahan and Jencks: Unmarried parents are not that different from married parents in their behavior.

Both groups value marriage, both spend a long time searching for a suitable marriage partner, and both engage in premarital sex and cohabitation.

The data is less conclusive, Mc Lanahan and Jencks caution, on how absent fathers affect a child's test scores or future earnings.